Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How To Relax on Thanksgiving Day (even if you're the hostess)

Holidays can be so stressful. Especially if you are hosting company, cooking the meals, arranging for everyone to be comfortable, and feeling like you need to do all the entertaining. Here are a few tips to help yourself relax a little and let yourself enjoy the special day, too!

1. You don't have to do everything yourself. It's okay to ask people who are coming over to bring a dish! Some may even like to come early and help out with the cooking. If you can get someone else to handle the appetizers or the drinks or the desserts, that's one less thing you have to worry about.

2. Ask your company to keep the area neat. Having the kids who are over keep their toys or jackets or boots all in one set location will keep your living area clean for everyone to enjoy. If there's a designated area for luggage, laundry--whatever tends to pile up in the way--will keep your house appearing more organized and keep you more relaxed.

3. Enlist help. Try asking for help. You'll probably be surprised at the positive response! Many times people would like to help you but don't know what you need. So asking someone to carry a tray of food into the dining room, having a few people help bring the dirty dishes into the kitchen, asking your family to help wash dishes while you prepare dessert, or hiring help for the occasion can all be a great relief for you.

4. Take Shortcuts. Get wild and crazy with these ideas: use disposable dishes and flatware; use paper napkins; buy the desserts instead of baking them. Go out on a limb and figure out how you can save precious time to spend with your company instead of cooking and cleaning for them!

5. Remember the meaning of the holiday. Remember that people aren't really coming over to eat delicious food off of fancy china and be served homemade pumpkin pie. People are all coming together to see each other and the eating is just the icing on the cake. Let some things go. Do what's important. And remember the famous words of Dr Seuss, "Those who matter don't mind, and those who mind don't matter".

Make it a great one :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Impossible Pumpkin Pie

I'm trying something new here today, so let me know what you think! Today I'm posting a recipe I love because it's so easy and so timely.
This "Impossible Pumpkin Pie" gets its name from the fact that the crust part is made simply by mixing the ingredients all together and letting the layers fall naturally into place as it bakes. This picture was not taken by me, personally, but is an accurate representation of what the final product looks like. So here it is:
Impossible Pumpkin Pie
Ingredients: 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. Bisquick baking mix
2 tbsp. butter
13 oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
16 oz. can pumpkin
2 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. vanilla
To reduce fat and calories, I substitute a lower calorie spread for the butter, and a fat free evaporated milk. Egg beaters can be used in place of the eggs (use 1/2 cup of egg substitute).
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease pie plate.
Beat all ingredients until smooth; 1 minute in blender on high or 2 minutes with hand beater. Pour into plate. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes.
That's it! Impossibly simple, and I can tell you it's delicious :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plan Ahead for Thanksgiving Mealtime

With Thanksgiving upon us, thoughts of huge and bountiful dinners come to mind. Many of us will be indulging in all-you-can-eat buffets, hosting meals for friends and relatives, or visiting other's homes to eat with them. I even know a few people who are attending more than one gathering for a celebration meal that day (one at her family's at 2 pm and then to his family's home at 6 pm). I get stuffed just thinking about it!Planning ahead is your best weapon to doing the right thing this Thursday. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Decide ahead of time what you will eat and how much. A fantastic guideline is to fill your plate 1/2 with vegetables, 1/4 with turkey, and 1/4 with starches.

2. If there are appetizers, focus on the raw veggies and stay away from cheeses, crackers, and dips. Fill yourself up with the high fiber, nutrition packed snacks.

3. Choose a little bit of everything you like to put on your plate once. No returning for seconds! Remember you do have to save room for dessert :)

4. Try to get slivers of dessert: a very small slice of pumpkin pie and a very small slice of pecan if you're having both. You can taste just about everything and savor the flavor. Just don't pile your plate with the high calorie sweets, and you'll thank yourself later.

Thanksgiving is a day to be shared with loved ones. It's a day to be thankful and celebrate with food. Just enjoy the tasting, the sharing, the company, and don't get carried away with overdoing it on the calories!

What strategy works for you on this special day?

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Year's Resolution: "Lose Weight!"

Are you starting to think about the new year yet? Probably not; there's Thanksgiving just around the corner, and then time to start shopping and decorating for Christmas and other December holidays. With all of the planning and traveling and parties and dinners, it's all most of us can do to try to get through the holiday season without gaining weight.

But, hey, here's an idea ... what if you could actually lose weight by the end of the year? That's right, start changing your diet now instead of waiting to make it a New Year's Resolution. What will this mean to you? Well, you'll have a head start on everyone else six weeks from now. And, oh, there's that little black dress that would look so cute on you to wear New Year's Eve!

So what can you do now to get started:

1. Start writing down everything you eat from now until New Years. I tell you this repeatedly, because it's such an easy thing to do and it is definitely effective! Writing everything you eat in a log makes you aware of the 'extras' you're picking up--a cookie here, a chocolate kiss there--and can stop you in your tracks, saving you hundreds of calories a day.

2. Write down three reasons you would like to lose weight. Why would it be important to you? Get these fresh in your mind each day to keep you on track when you're tempted by the office treats or the party platters. Passing up on those cute little quiches can help you fit into that little black dress, and if you keep reminding yourself of this, it will work!

3. Be sure to drink plenty of water. You already know this. Now make it a habit! Whenever you think of it, have a glass of water or iced tea or other unsweetened beverage. This is especially helpful after a meal when you're craving one more thing, or in between meals when you're likely to seek out a snack. Sometimes we look for something to eat and what we actually need is a little hydration. Take a drink first, and then see if you are still hungry in 15 minutes.

Now, I haven't said one word about cutting out chocolate, or not eating fast food fries, or monitoring your portion sizes. These all help as well. But if you're not in the mode to change your eating habits in ways that will make you feel deprived--especially over the holidays--then try adding the first three to your daily regimen instead. They'll help too! And see if you don't lose a few pounds over the next few weeks.

Let us know how it goes--come back to post your comments here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mr Meltdown is melting right along!

I was so happy to see Mr. Meltdown's video this week! Not only has he lost another 3 pounds, but his video shows all the healthy foods he has found to enjoy :)

He found low-fat turkey sausage muffins for breakfast on days he wants a change from his 4-grain cereal; he enjoys steamed vegetables to help keep him feeling full, and has a can of water-packed tuna or Nature Valley snack bars when he wants a snack; he found lower calorie frozen dinners for when he doesn't have time to cook a meal; and my favorite part is that he reads the labels. Not just the calories per serving, but what a serving size is! That is the most important part that too many people miss--they see "120 calories per serving" but don't notice that part that says, "6 servings in this little bag that looks like a single serving size; eat all at once and take in 720 calories when you imagine you are eating 120". It doesn't actually say all that--but it should!

I must confess I am flattered because I know that he got some of these ideas from me :) But I am so happy to see him staying motivated; finding healthy foods that he likes; staying within his calorie level (for his size he can have about 2600-2800 and lose weight at a healthy rate), and continuing his posts to keep us updated on what new finds he can share with us, and how he continues to lose--slowly but surely--towards his goal of being a healthy man with healthy eating habits.

Way to go, Mr. Meltdown :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can Online Weight Loss Programs Work?

With everyone having such a hectic schedule nowadays, there isn't always time to devote to attending diet classes and meetings in person. There are a variety of programs to help you lose weight that are conducted online, ranging from a specific membership through Weight Watchers, to my own Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight six week email program. But do these programs work if you are basically doing it without meeting a sponsor or leader in person?
Research says, "Yes it does"! There are several advantages to online weight loss programs and it might be a system that works for you. Consider the following if you find yourself too busy for a weight loss program that includes face-to-face meetings:

1. The convenience. Users can access the information from home, work, or even while on vacation. If one travels frequently and scheduled meetings are missed, the in-person system will not work for long. If there aren't meetings in your area, or you work odd shifts, the online system is still available 24/7 for you.
2. The cost. Without having to pay for an instructor or a meeting room, online programs can be offered for less money. Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight packages start at under $60! Many sites, such as Spark People and The Daily Plate, help by offering free membership if what you want is a place to go and log your intake, exercise, and calories, and to chat with others who have things in common with you.

3. Easy to stay in touch. Since people email back and forth in these programs, you don't have to be available to meet at the same time as you do in person or on the phone. Some programs have instructors that can answer your questions or evaluate your meal intake: You send them your information, they send you back comments and suggestions later in the day.

4. Anonymity. For people who require privacy, no one ever needs to see you, or know who you are! All they have is an email address to send information to. This allows weight loss clients to be more open and honest.

Any disadvantages to the online way to lose weight? It's not for everyone, and complicated cases such as people who require prescribed modified diets for medical reasons still need more individualized attention.

If you are really ready to start a weight loss program--ready to commit to making the changes in your diet to lead to a healthier life--but do not have the time to schedule weekly appointments, drive to a destination, and weigh in each week, consider that online weight loss programs may be the answer for you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Spray Yourself Skinny

Some new versions of butter and salad dressing save calories not just by changing their formula, but by changing their method of application. What a great idea this is: Spray butter on your toast and save at least 100 calories; spray dressing on your salad and save over 150 calories!
Here's how the numbers add up in a few examples:
Salad Dressings
-Wishbone spritzers variety salad dressings come in delicious flavors like French Flair, Raspberry Bliss and Caesar Delight. You only get 15 calories in 10 sprays. That is enough to wet a good portion of a small salad with flavorful dressing. Even if you usually pour a "light" raspberry vinaigrette over your salad you get 80 calories in two tablespoons. This is what they call a serving, but try measuring two tablespoons some time, then put it on your salad. Does this cover enough lettuce, tomato, and cucumber for you to be satisfied? If not, you might be using two, three, or even more 'servings' when you dress your salad! If you're still using regular dressing, fasten your seatbelt-Creamy Caesar dressing contains 170 calories in the same two tablespoons. Measure how much you use on your next salad to figure out how many calories you'll be saving by switching to the spray method.
You don't even have to buy this particular brand. You can use any light dressing you like and put it in a convenient spray bottle to help yourself cover more area of your salad using less dressing.
Butters and Spreads
-Do you like real butter? If that's what you use on your toast, or to fry an egg, keep in mind that a tablespoon of regular stick butter provides 100 calories. Spreads that come in a squeeze bottle (the more liquid, the lower in saturated fat) provide about 60 calories per tablespoon. Whipped butter comes in lower at only 50 calories per tablespoon. But the lowest of all is the "I can't believe it's not butter" spray with less than one calorie in five sprays. Now, it may take you 20 or 30 sprays to cover your entire bagel in the morning, but you know that can't be more than 5 or 6 calories, even if there were one entire calorie in five sprays!
If you've never heard me talk about the "100 calorie rule" let me summarize it here: For every hundred calories you save each day, you can lose nearly a pound in one month. This means if you change to spray butter and save a tablespoon of butter a day (100 calories) you can lose a pound this month. If you frequent restaurant s you should know that one tablespoon equals three pats of butter. How many do you use at a meal? On bread, potatoes, corn? By the way, margarine contains exactly the same number of calories as butter, pat for pat.
If you are used to pouring several tablespoons of salad dressing on your salad and you switch to spray dressings (or even just put diet dressing in a spray bottle of your own) you save 300 calories or more. This will mean up to three pounds lost at the end of 30 days if you usually eat salad every day. Restaurant portions of dressing (often served in a small gravy boat) can easily exceed eight tablespoons on a large salad. If you're counting, that means eight calories of spray versus 420 calories of light dressing, or 680 calories of regular dressing!
Think about how many calories you consume by covering your food with fats like butter and salad dressing. Try the new sprays, eliminate hundreds of calories a day from your diet, and join the "spray yourself skinny" club today!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Evaluation of Popular Diets

Check out the website for reviews of all the popular diets.
Ever wonder what The South Beach diet is? How the Atkins diet works? If the Cabbage Soup diet is healthy or easy to follow? This website reviews the popular diets: What they entail, how they work, and whether or not they are healthy. And probably the biggest question, "do they work?"
There is also a diet blog, on which I am a guest blogger--so I can attest to the accuracy of the information there :)
A question and answer area lets you pose questions to be answered by the community. I will be answering some there.
And remember I also have a blog site called Ask The Dietitian where you can post your questions from me and return to see them in print. So ask away and I'll have your questions about nutrition and diet answered promptly!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mistaken Identity

One mistake many dieters make is identifying too closely with their diets. They get their behavior and self-esteem closely tied in with the progress they are making on their diet, and this is not a good thing.

You see, it's very common and to be expected that one day this week you will eat something that you had determined you would not eat. And this does not make you a bad person. It is not a reason to feel guilty. Furthermore, it will do nothing to assure that you revert back to the 'good behavior' of eating healthy. It generally leads to beating yourself up, feeling like a failure, and then comforting yourself with food. That's not helpful is it?

Keep your identity separate from what you eat. Keep reminding yourself of your best qualities and what you are good at. It will help you stay in line with the healthy eating you aim for. When you slip and have a donut at the office, try telling yourself something like this: "I slipped and had a donut without thinking about it seriously. I am still a good person, a good mom, and good at what I do in my job. For the rest of today I will be conscious of what I eat and be sure to include healthy choices. And later today I will be sure to get in some extra stair-climbing or walking to be sure I burn off some of those extra calories".

There. Problem solved. You are still a good person and you will make more good choices today. You can burn off some of the calories (or even all!) that you had not planned on eating today. It is not a tragedy and you are not off track. Just a little blip in your plan.

Keep up the positive thinking. And remember that your eating habits do not define who you are!

Let us know about a time you ate what you hadn't planned and how you got back on track that very same day!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Today I'd like to introduce Mr. Meltdown. We met each other on line and we are working together to achieve his weight loss, which he is very ready to do at this time! We have been chatting for a few weeks and I have been sharing some information with him about healthy eating, lower calorie food choices, and the truth about low carb diets. Today will be his first installment of the "Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight" program, so I'm interested to hear his reaction to all the information provided and how he will respond with actions.
The really fantastic news is that at this time he is willing to share with you his trials and tribulations. It will definitely make for some interesting reading: He's going to keep us posted on what works for him and what doesn't, what he is going through, how it feels to be where he is and where he's heading.
He has an entire blog with posts, products, podcasts, and videos! He is an excellent writer, and very in tune with his feelings and his relationship with food, so it is a rare chance to travel along with someone on this journey.
Visit him at and see his progress on both our blogs over the coming months.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

5 Proven Weight Loss Behaviors

How are they proven?

Researchers surveyed people who had lost weight successfully to find out how they did it. These people all had several characteristics in common. If you can develop these it will greatly increase your chance at reaching your goal and maintaining your healthy weight.

1. They had previously acheived their weight loss goal. Even though they later gained weight back, they knew they had reached their goal before and knew they could do it again!

2. There were several dietary components of successful losers, including eating breakfast regularly, eating lower fat foods, and having meals at regular times on a daily basis.

3. They incorporated physical activity into their lifestyle.

4. On a personal side, they like themselves, their lives are stable, they have effective coping methods, and they have the confidence that they can lose weight!

5. Self monitoring was very prominent: people who lose weight successfully write down what they eat every day; keep a log of their physical activity; and weigh themselves frequently. These habits keep them keenly aware of when weight or behaviors are moving away from ideal.

Try adding these behaviors into your life, one step at a time. What can you do this week? Start a food diary? Simply write down what you eat! Can you take a few more minutes to be active during the day: a ten minute walk in the morning and the evening? How are your coping skills and your self-confidence? If these need help, get the guidance you need to set yourself up for successful weight loss.

Remind yourself every day that you can do it! Decide on an affirmation that will work for you and repeat it while you are getting ready for work, on the way there, while you wash your hands for lunch, on the way home--whenever you have a moment during the day. The more your brain hears that you can do it, the sooner you'll begin to believe it. And that's an important step to beginning your weight loss journey.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Increase Your Chance of Successful Weight Loss

How can we figure out what works to help individuals lose weight? One way is to study people who have lost weight successfully and see what they all have in common. A study in the International Journal of Obesity found some key behaviors people practiced which increased their odds of keeping off the weight.

1. Flexibility with the diet they follow: If it's easy to make changes and substitutions, people are more easily able to adhere to their diet plan. When you follow a diet that is very strict and does not allow flexibility, it's hard to stay on it. Simply going out to a restaurant with friends could sabotage your efforts if menu items are not exactly what is 'on' your diet.

2. Structured timing of meals: When people eat their meals at regularly scheduled times they are more successful at losing weight. Eating at erratic times or forgetting to eat a meal altogether does not help develop healthy eating habits that lead to weight loss.

3. Food choices: Dieters who have more food choices are able to stay with their regimen longer. If you try to follow a diet that is too restrictive it can get frustrating early on and lead you to stray.

4. Physical activity: Like it or not, the fact is that increasing physical activity helps weight loss. This does not mean you have to start jogging or going to the gym every day. Find ways to increase your activity like parking farther away to increase your walking distance, taking stairs instead of the elevator (even for one or two floors if you're going up several), and discovering an activity you enjoy such as tennis or dancing.

5. Coping with stress. Those who are successful at losing weight have found coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Instead of eating they have figured out what helps them to relax: calling a friend; going for a walk; taking a bubble bath or reading a good book. Learn what helps you calm down instead of turning to food when the daily fires throw you for a loop.

How does your weight loss plan fit in with these successful strategies? Make a serious effort to find a plan that allows you more food choices and flexibility. Be sure to get on a regular meal schedule and be consistent with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacks that are included in your meal plan. Do some thinking about what you can try when you find yourself turning to food for reasons other than hunger. Get out there and enjoy a new activity, and see your success at weight loss soar!